Tag Archives: photography

rethinking resolutions: february

Hopefully my lack of motivation to sit down and write this post will not be reflected in my drive to actually accomplish something this month. It’s just been one of those weeks where I want to get home, get fed, get warm and then fall asleep in my book. Which is great, really, because that’s exactly what I’ve done.

As a refresher, here’s the post on how I’m approaching some various goals in my life this year (versus just setting – and trying to keep – resolutions). Here’s my outline for this month (beyond staying warm and late night reading):

Focus: Photos

I’ve had photos on my mind a lot lately, and a lot of them relate to my family, my niece, and memory. One of the things that gave us some focus in the week following her death was the assembly of a photo montage. I was struck by how many photos her parents took last year. They documented everything, and as difficult as it was to sort through those photos – they just contained so much joy. In the months since she’s been gone there have been almost daily photographic reminders of her time in our family. And one of the more specific ways we’ve seen E work through her grief was to first go through all of her own photo albums, adding post-it note tabs on any pages with pictures of her cousin, and then to request a new album to fill with just photos of her. I’m acknowledging the importance of this documentation, and I’d like to spend this month focusing on photos in several different ways.

Keeping with the “format” of these goals – to-do’s I’d like to get to, ways I want to push myself to learn something new, and a description of the way I want to feel at the end of the month.

To-do’s related to that theme:

1.  I started a system when the girls were born to sort and store photos that we take, and then to print them and slowly fill albums for their grandparents. I’ve done the same for them as well – filling up sets of albums that they might one day take with them when they are grown. I’m behind on doing this, and so one of my goals this month is to get caught up on that sorting and printing. I already own the albums, I just need to sit down in front of the computer for a few (billion) hours and do it.

2.  I’d like to set up a more regular system of backing up photos this month. Teaming up with M on this one.

3.  I want to devote some real time this month to helping E sort through the photos of her cousin, send them off for printing, and helping her assemble them in her album.

Learn something new:  (And finding time to do things that I love to do, but don’t do enough of.)

1.  Back to the basics. I took my camera in for cleaning – the lenses were all good, but I need some cleaning on the sensor, and am leaving that work up to the professionals. I should have it back later this week, all clean and ready to go.

2.  While I was in the store I asked about taking some courses there this month. M mentioned taking some classes together with E, and I might do that too. There is also the option to pay an hourly rate to meet with their photography pro – something that would work well for the three of us (minus the little one) to do for an afternoon. That way we could really customize what we’d like to learn more about, and have the undivided attention of the instructor. I haven’t made any reservations yet, so if you know of any good photography classes, or local photographers that like to give one-on-one instruction, I’d love to hear about it.

3.  I used to sketch / ink / watercolor all the time, but I don’t do it on a regular basis anymore. Last year I found the old oversized sketch pad I used for a college art course, and E was so fascinated by it. It was full of work from my figure drawing class, and a few self portraits as well. (Old school selfies!) I think I’d like to set up a time (or two) this month where the whole family sits down with sketchbooks and we draw portraits of each other. I’m also going to hunt around for a figure drawing class to take again – but this time with E. She’s really expressed interest in it, but she told me she thinks she’ll be too embarrassed to be drawing nudes, so I’ve got to find a nearly-nude one. We might not actually do this during the month of February, but I want it on my radar for this year sometime.

4.  So… this kind of ties in with to-do’s and learning / making / doing – I want to start working on a really big portrait wall. It will incorporate photographs we’ve taken previously, portraits we’ve made in various types of media, and some new work as well. I’ve been saving people drawings that the girls have made – I’ve always been in love with the way their drawings evolve over time. I’m not limiting myself on size or color or even subject – I might throw in some random portraits for fun. This will tie into the work / progress we’ve been making on the long-suffering stair hall that cuts a thirty-five foot vertical slice through the house.

How I want to feel at the end of February:   (Does warmer count?)

Organized, artistic, family-focused, and mostly appreciative – of the joys that abound in our lives as reflected in the faces of the ones I love the most.

holiday outtakes

I try very hard to capture a lot of the things we do with the camera – always looking for those few shots that sum up how we were feeling at a particular moment, images to look back on years from now to remember. And then when I take the time to look back through the shots, I’m amazed just how many of them are really, really bad – closed eyes, unflattering angles, bad lighting. I caught a few really good moments over the holidays, and I’ll post those soon. But I also caught some really funny ones too – ones that made me laugh out loud because they look like we really look. Sometimes it’s hard to convey the personalities of all these people, smooshed together into a space, hopped up on festivities and excitement and chocolate. I thought I’d take you on a little tour of the goofiness this morning.

Excitement (and volume) was at a fever pitch between the quiet Christmas Eve service we all attended (where the children were most decidedly not quiet) and our Christmas Eve dinner. We told E to grab a book and start reading, just to settle things down for a few minutes. She grabbed some enormous book and started reading in this monotone voice while the little ones moved onto a gear building project. My idea of the children gathered around E’s feet, listening intently to her reading of a Christmas story did not materialize. Instead, I got this knowing look from my niece. She was not impressed with my tactics.

Every year we try to get a photo of the kiddos in their Christmas pj’s, right before they tear into the room with the tree. I don’t think we’ve ever gotten a photo of all four looking (normally) at the camera – despite the fact that we have three cameras aimed at them for five minutes straight and we’re threatening the very existence of their Christmas experience on their cooperation. My nephew looks like a (cute) Muppet in this one.


This photo was from our New Year’s weekend with M’s family. I took fifty shots of the girls bouncing off some snow day steam at a trampoline place, and the only one that wasn’t a giant blur was of this kid with her tongue stuck out, trying to pull her self out of the foam cubes.

Later that day I did manage to capture the giant sigh of relief when E became the last kid on the planet to own a rainbow loom. And she had to wait until New Years to open it!

I love this shot of my sister attempting to dislodge the pieces and parts of a construction dress up kit, while the little one 

a. Shouts “Shazam!”
b. Curses the existence of plastic toy ties or
c. Declares herself the winner of Christmas. “I’m #1!” (see next photo)


Okay, she did become the Christmas winner when she found her most requested gift dream fulfilled. Windshield wiper glasses for the win.


There is always a side eye look from the older one to the younger one. Always.


And my final favorite – my sister’s attempt to get the old family together for a portrait. She arranged Mom, Dad and me on the hearth, and then stood off to the side and declared us ready. She’s been secretly bitter about the arrangement of that family portrait above the mantel for over 20 years now – she thinks the three of us make this great family pose, and she’s left hanging onto the porch rail, an afterthought.
We all think she’s being a little melodramatic, but it did make for a fun reenactment, and lots of giggles. My mom and I both have trouble smiling and keeping our eyes open at the same time (the curse of the photo blinker, ugh, I have it). 

Here’s to a new year full of photos and goofy times, blinks and blurs included. 

instagram prints: artifact uprising

I mentioned a few weeks back that I ordered a couple of items from Artifact Uprising. They offer several different ways to get your favorite Instagram photos out of your phone and into your house. I ordered the calendar and the wood block with prints. The calendar option is nice because you can select the month you want to start with – I chose September – versus waiting until January to start it up. 


For the calendar I chose images that I liked – colorful ones that were slightly seasonal. I purposely didn’t choose images with people in them, with the exception of one where the girls aren’t really the focus of the image. 


I’m really pleased with the quality of the prints – especially considering these are non-professional camera phone shots with filters applied. The paper is beautiful, and I love the wooden clip board. It just comes with a magnet on the back, but I did have a small bracket in our picture hanging stash that I attached to the wall. There’s a little lip at the bottom of the bracket that the magnet rests on, but it also sticks to the bracket as well, so it’s not going anywhere. 

I also purchased the wood block with prints, and for those twelve I chose favorite photos of the girls. I rotate them often, and so do the girls.


It’s a nice little addition to the coffee table, and when we had an event at our house last Thursday, F loved flipping through them with the guests and telling them a little about each photo.

I would order from them again – my only (small) complaint was the price of shipping. I really thought their overall pricing was fairly reasonable, but the shipping was pretty steep. Still, it was packaged perfectly, and everything arrived in mint condition – they’ve obviously taken great care to ensure that. There’s nothing worse than ordering some custom paper item and having it arrived bent and creased – it seems like that happens a lot to me. If you are ordering, it might be worth a quick email or call to see if they are offering any shipping deals, just to make it a little more reasonable.

Meanwhile, the girls have become huge fans of Instagram. At the end of the day they like to scroll through the pictures and find their cousins and their friends and see what they’ve been up to that day. And of course, send plenty of silly ones right back to them.

This photo was taken by our friend J, at the park yesterday.